NAHARLAGUN, May 25: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed concern over delay in submission of various reports, particularly on custodial deaths, by the Arunachal Pradesh government.
The commission on Friday conducted an open hearing on various human rights violation cases and issues confronting the common people of the state.
The hearing, which was conducted at the Dorjee Khandu Convention Centre here, took up 57 issues/cases, which included non-implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in letter and spirit; lack of basic amenities for people living along the Sino-India border; increase in suicide cases and lack of mental healthcare centres; scarcity of drinking water in Debing village in East Siang district; conditions in jails, including overcrowding, healthcare, and denial of facilities; implementation of central government flagship programmes; and bad condition of roads.
The commission recommended providing monetary relief of Rs 14.40 lakh in two cases of prima facie violation of human rights and death in police custody, to which the state government assured to implement the recommendation made earlier by the commission for payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.
The state government also assured to direct the authorities concerned to submit district-wise details on implementation of the RTE Act, and to issue circulars to the authorities, including those of private schools, to implement the act.
In three cases, the commission issued notices to the state government for providing monetary compensation of Rs 4.5 lakh.
Four cases were closed upon receipt of the reports for further consideration/ examination by the commission.
The single-bench sittings were followed by an interaction with NGO and human rights defenders, who raised issues such as lack of basic infrastructural facilities in remote districts; improper implementation of the PDS scheme; the need to increase the budget for improving healthcare facilities; the need for specialist doctors; lack of supply of nutritious food at the village level through anganwadi centres; and lack of toilets in districts and villages.
One of the issues raised was heavy bombing practice by the Indian Air Force in Kamle district.
Earlier, Chief Secretary Satya Gopal described human rights as the foundation stone for every democratic society.
“There are legal service authorities in 20 districts, two Juvenile Justice Boards, and two human rights courts,” he said, informing about the passing of the State Human Rights Commission Act.
He said there were no cases of bonded labourers, and that the government is giving special focus on education and implementation of various flagships programmes.
NHRC secretary general Ambuj Sharma emphasized the need for protection of human rights and highlighted the initiatives taken by the commission to encourage the states to exhibit good practices and bring human rights to the doorsteps of the common men.
NHRC chairperson HL Dutta said the camp and the open hearing was a mechanism to monitor and review significant issues of human rights, create public awareness and provide a platform to raise the voices of the marginalized sections of the society, and initiate action against perpetrators of human rights violations.
Meanwhile, the North East Human Rights Organization has expressed disappointment over the “non-submission of the report as sought by the NHRC regarding the death of an infant at a government-run health centre in Namsai.”
It said, however, that the NHRC has directed the chief secretary to respond within four weeks.
AAPSU submits representation, condemns Taku’s statement
A team of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU), led by its president Hawa Bagang and general secretary Tobom Dai also attended the hearing, and submitted a representation to the visiting NHRC team.
Dai also made an oral submission before the NHRC on behalf of the indigenous tribal people of the state regarding the “wrong” portrayal of indigenous Arunachalis as “oppressors” by refugees and their lobbyists in New Delhi.
“It is the Arunachalis who are at the receiving end. Due to the mass influx of refugees, there have been drastic changes in the demography in the eastern districts of the state,” he said.
Expressing strong exception to the recent press statement by former minister Bida Taku, the AAPSU termed it “purely a political statement, bereft of any logic.”
The issue of issuing ST and PR certificates to the people of that concerned area is a sensitive subject which needs mature deliberations as well as consultations with all the stakeholders, including the AAPSU, it said.
The union cautioned Taku and other politicians of the state against “resorting to political antics which may be detrimental to the interests of the indigenous people of the state.
“In his quest to become an MLA, Bida Taku should not act as an agent of the non-locals and indulge in anti-Arunachali activities. No single individual, or for that matter a party, can determine the fate of more than 26 major tribes and 110 sub-tribes as per their whims and fancies,” the union said.
Further, the union urged the state government to immediately call a meeting of the reconstituted Joint High Power Committee under the chairmanship of Minister Nabam Rebia to look into the details of the PRC issue.
The AAPSU team was accompanied by its legal advisers Marto Kato and Nabam Jollow.